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Preparing for Severe Weather Season; Consider becoming a Skywarn Severe Weather Spotter!

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I’ve explained many times how our Doppler radars let us see inside of storms and determine if any given storm is rotating. Newer technological upgrades over the past several years have given us additional radar products, including one, called Correlation Coefficient, that actually shows us debris lifted into the air by the stronger tornadoes.

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As a result, many tornado warnings now issued are called “radar based warnings,” which means that radar has identified a storm either with a tornado, or showing capabilities of producing one. However, no matter how great our weather radars have become, there is no substitute for the human eye. And this is where you come in.

For many years now, the National Weather Service has trained a group of civilian observers, called Skywarn Spotters. Once trained, these people are given a special private number to the National Weather Service, where they can immediately report severe weather they observe. Some of the things they report are wind gusts over 40 mph, hail, funnel clouds, tornadoes, waterspouts, rainfall rates of one inch per hour or more, significant flooding, and storm damage.

So how do  you get trained? By attending one of the National Weather Service’s 90-minute to two-hour seminars, which will be held at numerous locations across southeast Michigan between now and May 11. The classes are limited to people ages ten and up, although you must be thirteen years of age or older to report severe weather or damage.

Here’s the list of the seminars. If you are interested in becoming a Skywarn Spotter, and one of these seminars is convenient for you, register your attendance by calling the Emergency Management / Homeland Security office of the county the class will be held in.


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